Report from MOSES

MOSES (Madison Organizing in Strength, Equity, and Solidarity for Criminal Legal System Reform) is part of WISDOM, a statewide social justice organization, and with Gamaliel, a national social justice network. Gamaliel’s Annual Report for 2023 talks about its support for building a focus on racial equity, immigration justice, integrated voter engagement, transformational justice, and more.

MOSES Supporting Quality Literacy Curricula

The Racial Justice for All Children task force in MOSES is advocating for policies to ensure that all children learn to read and address severe racial disparities in literacy. Children who do not learn to read tend to have behavioral problems at school and end up in the “school to prison pipeline.” Recent advocacy has called for the state to adopt literacy curricula based on the Science of Reading. Members have been asked to advocate with the Wisconsin legislature’s Joint Finance Committee by March 5 to support high-quality literacy curricula.

Background: In the fall of 2023, by bipartisan vote, the legislature passed and Governor Evers signed Act 20, which supports statewide literacy curricula based on the Science of Reading. MOSES supported Act 20. This Act created the Early Literacy Curricula Council (ELCC) which was charged to develop curriculum recommendations based on the Science of Reading. Recommended curricula would be eligible for grants to support their purchase. Districts could still purchase other curricula, except for those that rely on a specific intervention (cueing) that has been discredited, but they would not eligible for grants. ELCC recommended four quality curricula options. The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) submitted a much longer list which did not conform to the ELCC’s recommendations and includes curricula that only minimally meet the requirements of the law. According to the law, a Joint Finance Committee vote on March 8 determines which curricula will be eligible for grants. MOSES asked its members to advocate by March 5 with the Joint Finance Committee to support the ELCC’s recommended list.  

Prison Lockdowns

MOSES and WISDOM members continue to advocate for releasing low-risk incarcerated individuals to address the lockdowns in Wisconsin prisons due to staff shortages. During a lockdown, incarcerated people spend 23 hours a day in their cells. People have been denied visitors and access to medical appointments and treatment services. WISDOM transformational justice coordinator Mark Rice was recently approached by a reporter from Wisconsin Eye, who interviewed him for an edition of a podcast called “Capitol Chats”.  The interview centered on Prison Lockdowns.  You can listen to this 14-minute, information-packed interview here:  Capitol Chats with WISDOM re Prison Lockdowns.

Treatment Alternatives to Imprisonment – A disappointing legislative outcome

MOSES members are active in WISDOM’s Treatment Alternatives and Diversions (TAD) task force, which seeks to divert people from jail or prison into treatment programs. The current law only allows the diversion of people with Substance Use Disorder, but people across the political spectrum agree that people with other mental health issues should also be eligible for diversion into treatment. This is one important way to reduce crowding in prisons and jails as the underlying issue for many incarceration people is an untreated mental illness. The bill passed the State Senate 29-3!  It had broad bipartisan support and would have passed the Assembly by a similar margin if Speaker Vos had allowed a vote, which unfortunately he did not. Mark Rice, WISDOM’s Transformational Justice Campaign Coordinator, sent a letter to all State Senators thanking them for their overwhelming bipartisan support for this measure and urging them to make this a priority in 2025.

Please contact Pam Oliver or Barbie Jackson if you would like to learn more about MOSES.

Webinar Recording Available

A webinar, “Declaration for a Just Peace Between Palestine and Israel” A Study of the 2021 UCC Resolution hosted by the Wisconsin Conference of the UCC was presented Wednesday, January 3rd. The recording is available here.

This webinar will explores UCC’s 2021 Resolution of Witness describing Israel’s military occupation of Palestine an apartheid system. Note: This is a condensed version of the in-person presentations in July 2023 at ORUCC, with added information about the situation in Gaza. 

Petition mailed to President Biden

Motivated by the urgent need to prevent death by starvation of masses of Palestinian men, women and children, members of ORUCC’s Palestine Justice Mission Team sent an urgent petition to President Joseph Biden.

The petition recognizes the vital role that UNRWA (the United Nations Refugee and Works Administration) plays in the lives of everyday Palestinians, including Palestinian families in Gaza facing starvation and imminent death from lack of UNRWA-supplied food. The petition recognizes that President Biden himself has cut off funds for UNRWA, and requests that he restore these critically needed funds. The petition concludes with this call to action:  

“Your administration’s decision to cancel UNRWA funding was taken despite calls from the United Nations and numerous humanitarian organizations to increase aid to Gaza, in the face of a rapidly rising toll of deaths by starvation and disease. This action to cancel UNRWA funding, taken on the flimsiest of excuses, makes the US complicit in the very genocide the ICJ has warned against. It also highlights the gap between your administration and the overwhelming majority of US citizens, many of whom have marched in the streets demanding a ceasefire, demanding an end to US funding of Israel’s longstanding military occupation, and showing care for and solidarity with the men, women and children of Gaza. We request that you restore funding to UNRWA.”

Read the full text of the petition below. We signed this petition as individual members and friends of ORUCC, and not on behalf of the entire congregation.


February 27, 2024

The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Request that you restore US funding to UNRWA to its historic level prior to the election of Donald Trump as president   

Dear President Biden:

We write to you as members and friends of the Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ congregation in Madison, Wisconsin. 

We urgently request you restore funding to UNWRA to its historic level prior to the election of Donald Trump as president. 

The United Nations Relief & Works Agency (UNRWA) is a hardworking, respectable agency created in 1949 to meet the immediate needs of Palestinian refugees who had been ethnically cleansed from their homes in 1948. The organization runs refugee camps for displaced Palestinians in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank, and Gaza. It has three major areas of service: Education (through UNRWA schools), Health (through its clinics), and Social Services. The organization undertakes essential, urgently needed work which is performed by UNRWA staff most of whom are, themselves, Palestinian refugees. Today, UNRWA serves about 5.7 million Palestinian refugees. 

On January 26 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to take steps to prevent acts of genocide and improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Yet, the very day after this decision was announced, US funding was pulled from UNRWA.   

In an effort to divert attention from this powerful, bold decision by the ICJ, Israel announced without furnishing any proof that 12 out of the 13,000 employees of UNRWA were involved in the attacks of October 7. In response to these accusations, UNRWA fired the 12 accused employees. Yet, this dismissal was not enough for those in the US (and elsewhere) who demanded UNRWA be punished, possibly dismantled, and prevented from continuing its humanitarian mission. 

Your administration’s decision to cancel UNRWA funding was taken despite calls from the United Nations and numerous humanitarian organizations to increase aid to Gaza, in the face of a rapidly rising toll of deaths by starvation and disease. This action to cancel UNRWA funding, taken on the flimsiest of excuses, makes the US complicit in the very genocide the ICJ has warned against. It also highlights the gap between your administration and the overwhelming majority of US citizens, many of whom have marched in the streets demanding a ceasefire, demanding an end to US funding of Israel’s longstanding military occupation, and showing care for and solidarity with the men, woman and children of Gaza.

We request that you restore funding to UNRWA

Thank you.

Sunday, April 7, 9 a.m. – Meet Palestinian Christian Usama Nicola

Sunday, April 7 at 9:00 a.m. join us (from home or in the Swan room) for a Zoom interview with Usama Nicola. Usama (pictured below, right) is a tour guide extraordinaire and co-runs an organization–Wi’am: The Palestine Transformation Center — that helps Palestinian children and youth cope with the trauma of occupation. Usama is a deeply committed Christian living in Bethlehem, just blocks from the Church of the Nativity. ORUCC members Diane Dulin and Tom Beilman have met Usama several times, benefiting greatly from his insights as a tour guide and staying at the hostel his family runs.

Usama Nicola (right)

Come and learn about the many obstacles families in the West Bank face as they try to live their daily lives. See and appreciate Usama’s steadfast determination (Arabic: sumud) to persevere in the face of such obstacles. The Zoom link will be posted in the church announcements April 4.

Quilts for Gaza: Quilters Invited

The war in Gaza has left thousands of people homeless, injured and critically ill. Many of these people are newborn infants, young children, or teenagers.

Although shipments of humanitarian aid for Gaza are very limited right now, in time it will become possible to send quilts to Gaza. A group of quilters from Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ is preparing for this opportunity by making small quilts for distribution to Gaza via our United Church of Christ Global Mission Partner, the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.

Can you help?

  • Make a quilt (40″ x 40″ for babies and young children, slightly larger for teens)
  • Share extra fabric, thread, or lightweight batting
  • Donate to help with materials and shipping costs
  • Pray for the people of Gaza
  • Spread the word to others

Contact Diane Dulin for more information. We welcome your questions, ideas, and involvement.

How can I contribute now to help the people of Gaza?

You may be wondering how you can help meet the needs of people in Gaza. Here is an annotated list of nonprofits serving Gazans. All are proven, trusted organizations.

Urgent petitions sent to Mark Pocan and Tammy Baldwin

Motivated by a need for action, members of ORUCC’s Palestine Justice Mission Team mailed time-sensitive petitions to Mark Pocan and Tammy Baldwin. The petitions highlight Israel’s deliberate blockage of humanitarian aid to Gaza—blockage that has led to ordinary men, women and children of Gaza starving and even dying of starvation. The petitions explain that this blockage of aid violates core provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which to this day is the most important document governing the protection of civilians in areas of military occupation. 

The petitions conclude with a call to action: “Unfortunately, this deliberate blockage of humanitarian aid is supported diplomatically, militarily and financially by the United States government. We request that you partner with other congressional (or senatorial) representatives in taking a visible stand in support of uninhibited flow of food and medical supplies into Gaza. We need your leadership on this issue.”

Read the full text of the petitions below for Mark Pocan and for Tammy Baldwin. We signed these petitions as individual members and friends of ORUCC, and not on behalf of the entire congregation.


Request you take a visible stand in support of uninhibited flow of food and medical supplies into Gaza

Mr. Pocan,

We write to you as members and friends of the Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ congregation in Madison.   

We thank you sincerely for your years of support for the rights of Palestinian citizens living under Israeli military occupation. Unfortunately, we have entered a new period of intense ethnic cleansing by the State of Israel, so more action is needed.    

Right now, today, ordinary men, women and children in Gaza are starving and even dying of starvation, due to Israel’s deliberate blockage of humanitarian aid to Gaza. 

This deliberate blockage of humanitarian aid is in direct violation of core provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which to this day is the most important document governing the protection of civilians in areas of military occupation. Israel’s deliberate blockage of humanitarian aid violates these provisions of the Convention: 

  • Article 33, which prohibits “collective punishment” 
  • Article 50, concerning the provision of food and medical care for children, expectant mothers, and mothers of children under seven
  • Article 56, concerning an occupying power’s requirement to ensure hygiene and public health in the area it occupies.

Israel signed the fourth Geneva Convention in 1949 and ratified it “without any reservation” in 1951. As one of 196 states to sign onto the Convention, Israel is required to follow its provisions. 

Unfortunately, this deliberate blockage of humanitarian aid is supported diplomatically, militarily and financially by the United States government. We request that you partner with other congressional representatives in taking a visible stand in support of uninhibited flow of food and medical supplies into Gaza. We need your leadership on this issue. 

Thank you.


Request you take a visible stand in support of uninhibited flow of food and medical supplies into Gaza

Senator Baldwin,

We write to you as members and friends of the Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ congregation in Madison.   

We thank you sincerely for the actions you have taken in response to the emergency in Israel and Gaza. Unfortunately, we have entered another period of intense ethnic cleansing by the State of Israel, so more action is needed.    

Right now, today, ordinary men, women and children in Gaza are starving and even dying of starvation, due to Israel’s deliberate blockage of humanitarian aid to Gaza. 

This deliberate blockage of humanitarian aid is in direct violation of core provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which to this day is the most important document governing the protection of civilians in areas of military occupation. Israel’s deliberate blockage of humanitarian aid violates these provisions of the Convention: 

  • Article 33, which prohibits “collective punishment” 
  • Article 50, concerning the provision of food and medical care for children, expectant mothers, and mothers of children under seven
  • Article 56, concerning an occupying power’s requirement to ensure hygiene and public health in the area it occupies.

Israel signed the fourth Geneva Convention in 1949 and ratified it “without any reservation” in 1951. As one of 196 states to sign onto the Convention, Israel is required to follow its provisions. 

Unfortunately, this deliberate blockage of humanitarian aid is supported diplomatically, militarily and financially by the United States government. We request that you partner with other congressional representatives, including Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, in taking a visible stand in support of uninhibited flow of food and medical supplies into Gaza. We need your leadership on this issue. 

Thank you.

With appreciation

Out of budgeted church funds in 2023, our Ministry of Christian Witness and Service (CWS) awarded $2,000 in response to the Urgent Appeal extended by UCC Global Ministries. The Appeal was supported by churches across Wisconsin and the entire UCC.

Funds raised have been (and continue to be) forwarded to our Mission Partners actively working in Gaza: the Department of Service for Palestinian Refugees (DSPR) of the Middle East Council of Churches, the and Al-Ahli Hospital (a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem).

The Palestine Justice Mission Team is thankful for this support for the people of Gaza. You can also make additional individual donations to support organizations working in Gaza.

Movie Discussion, Tues, Nov 21, 7 p.m.

Many books, films and study guides are available for people trying to make sense of the Israel/Palestine conflict. The ORUCC Palestine Justice Mission Team recommends the widely acclaimed film Roadmap to Apartheid, narrated by Alice Walker. We invite you to watch this film on-line at a time convenient for you. Then join us for a discussion of the film on Tuesday, November 21 from 7:00 pm-8:00 pm at the Alfred Swan Room at church. You can also join via Zoom with this link.

Roadmap to Apartheid is an historical document on the rise and fall of apartheid in South Africa, and a film about why Palestinians feel they are living today in an apartheid system – a view that many people worldwide have come to share. View the film on YouTube, Prime Video, and Apple TV.

ORUCC Faithful Action for Justice

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Faithful Action for Justice

Orchard Ridge United Church of Christ

August 2023

Faithful Action for Justice provides announcements and information from ORUCC’s Justice missions (Care of Creation, Immigration Justice, Heart Room, Racial Justice, Christian Witness and Service, Palestinian Justice).

Nobody can do everything. Saying yes to some things requires saying no to others. Our health and obligations limit us. As you read, briefly celebrate and pray for people doing something you will not join. As you feel called, reach out to a project’s contact person to learn more, and consider joining or click on links to read more.

Our justice mission teams provide information on issues that may be controversial, speaking to the congregation but not for the congregation.

Opportunities for Action or Service

Donate items for MOSES Rummage Sale

MOSES is having a rummage sale. MOSES, of which ORUCC is a congregational member, is an organization that advocates for criminal justice reform and ending systemic racism thus allowing all people to thrive. The rummage sale will be at St. Dunstan’s 6205 University Avenue (Near Allen Blvd) Saturday August 25 8 am to 5pm & Sunday August 26 8 am to 3 pm. Items are sold for the amount the person is willing and able to pay. This policy has worked in the past both to raise funds for MOSES and to allow community people to acquire things they need. 

Items needed (in good working condition)

tools, small appliances, household items, clothing (clean, gently used), books

NOTE: MOSES cannot accept computers, TVs, exercise equipment, sofas, futons, or baby furniture.

If you’d like to contribute items for the sale, there is only a small window of opportunity. Please bring items to ORUCC Saturday or Sunday, Aug 20 and 21 or to St. Dunstan’s on August 24 (8 am to 5 pm). Please don’t bring items to either site at any other time. If you can’t bring items then, there will be a FREECYCLE event at ORUCC in the Spring.

Casa Alitas clothing drive July 2023

ORUCC Immigration Justice Team Thanks All

for Another Successful Clothing Drive

 

The Immigration Team was thrilled to sort, box, and deliver 44 U-Haul boxes of clothing to Casa Alitas in Tucson Arizona this July 2023. A tremendous set of people helped to make this happen, and we extend our gratitude to all.

 

This was our fourth clothing collection drive, held annually since 2019. The clothing drive reinforces the commitment of the ORUCC congregation to immigration justice and our connection with Casa Alitas, the immigrant welcome center near the border. It was a joy to see the education wing at the church fill with donated clothing week after week, culminating with a fun day of loading the trailer of Steve Sheets for transit to Casa Alitas. Steve was met by the welcoming faces of our friends at Casa Alitas.

Casa Alitas Clothing Drive through Beth Israel

If you missed the chance to donate clothing to Casa Alitas last month when ORUCC collected donations, you can donate now until September 29 through Beth Israel Center, 1406 Mound Street (corner Randall Ave) at the bin on the Randall Ave side by the parking lot entrance OR the porch of 611 Prospect Street, both Madison. Please do NOT drop off donations on Shabbat (sundown Friday through sundown Saturday).

General Guidelines

  • New or newly-washed, gently-used items
  • Casual summer and non-bulky winter clothing
  • No underwear
  • Shoes, especially flip flops, sandals or tennies

S, M, L (not XL) men’s clothing

  • Jeans, sweatpants (waist 28” to 34”; length 27” to 32”)
  • Shorts and caps
  • T-shirts; polos; sweatshirts; hoodies

S, M, L (not XL) women’s clothing

  • Jeans, sweatpants, leggings
  • T-shirts and knits
  • Maternity clothes

Children

  • T-shirts and knits (sizes 6 to 18)
  • Pants and shorts (sizes 2 to 16)
  • Baseball caps; hats
  • School quality backpacks (no string bags)

Learn About Justice Issues

Teaching about Indigenous Issues in Wisconsin

A bill has been introduced in the Wisconsin legislature to strengthen the state-mandated social studies curriculum for K-12 education about the history, culture and tribal sovereignty of the federally recognized American Indian tribes and bands in Wisconsin. There will be Zoom programs sponsored by Taking a Faithful Stance for Equity on Wednesday August 16 and Tuesday September 12 that will provide information about this issue.

Taking a Faithful Stand for Equity is a statewide coalition including both the Wisconsin Council of Churches and WISDOM (organizations ORUCC is affiliated with). It holds monthly statewide Zoom meetings to share experiences and educate people about attacks on public schools, voting rights and other issues. The next meeting will be Wednesday August 16 at 6:30. Please register in advance to get the Zoom meeting link. The speaker will be Brian Ward, an activist and educator who has written about issues of the representation of Indigenous people in K-12 classrooms.

The speaker on September 12 will be David O’Connor, a member of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa (Ojibwe) and the American Indian Studies Consultant at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, where supports schools districts efforts to provide instruction about Wisconsin’s American Indian nations and tribal communities. Additional information about this presentation and the link to register will be sent later.

MOSES Updates

The MOSES Education Advocacy Group led analysis, testimony, and development of a MOSES position in support of a Joint Legislative Bill to provide statewide requirements and financial support for improved literacy using the Science of Reading approach to instruction and curricula. This is a small step toward further literacy support for children with dyslexia, which is a major MOSES initiative. The amended legislation passed both houses and was signed into law by Governor Evers in July.  Read more about The Right to Read Act here.

MOSES is continuing to advocate Restorative Justice (RJ) in Dane County schools.  Task force members recently met twice with RJ support staff in the Madison Metropolitan School District and forged a framework for continued engagement with RJ coordinators and administrators. 

For more information about MOSES goings-on, see the latest MOSES Newsletter.

MOSES general meetings are the first Sunday of the month 2:30-4:30 with a social time before the meeting 2-2:30. Next meeting is August 6 at St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church 6205 University Avenue. or on Zoom https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81036805998?pwd=SHdMT3hOT253TlRjRUdaRythWE00QT09 (this is the same recurring link as always) Meeting ID: 810 3680 5998 Passcode 640043 Please note that the meeting will prioritize in-person attendees. August Agenda. New attendees are always welcome. General meetings feature racial equity discussions, informational presentations about local issues, and short presentations from MOSES working groups.

News From Our Mission Teams

Racial Justice: Learning about Indigenous Issues

While continuing its concern with issues around racism and anti-Blackness, the Racial Justice Mission Team is discussing ways to educate ourselves and ORUCC about Indigenous issues. One project involves exploring ORUCC’s past support for an Indian boarding school. A small group of people led by Joyce Binder is looking into this issue and we may form a special-purpose mission team around this specific issue. If you are interested in being part of this small team, or interested in education about Indigenous issues more generally or in lifting up other topics for the racial justice mission team to consider, please contact Pam Oliver. We are also discussing create a separate mission team to inform the congregation about activities and issues supported by MOSES.

Wisconsin Faith Leaders Call for a Just and Humane Immigration System – Watch the Video

On July 19, Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice and the Dane Sanctuary Coalition, in partnership with Voces de la Frontera, released a statement calling for a just and humane immigration system. Over 160 clergy and people of faith, and 34 congregations and organizations, signed on to our statement. 

When President Biden ran for office, he promised to make the immigration system fair, orderly and humane. He said he wished to “undo the moral and national shame of the previous administration.” On his first day in office, he announced sweeping plans to reform decades-old U.S. immigration laws.

But two years later little has changed. Migrants still daily risk death from any number of dangers— lethal exposure to excessive heat or cold, drowning trying to cross rivers, suffocation in semi-trailers, falls from the border wall, outright homicide, and now detention center disasters. Of those who reach here, the vast majority face denial of entry—or even worse, family separation.

Read Rabbi Bonnie Margulis’ statement here, the WFVJ statement with all the signatories here and watch our press conference with the link below.

 

Thank you all for your commitment to immigrant justice!

video of 20 minute press conference about immigration justice. Includes audio.

About our Missions

Interested? Reach out to learn more about our justice teams and projects. Our mission teams welcome your time, talent and energy!

In addition, our Christian Witness and Service ministry connects members to a variety of opportunities to support justice activities (chair:LuAnn Greiner)

Let us love and care for ourselves and each other as we work together for justice and mercy.